A perfect prescription by doctor-administrator

Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy
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Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy 

Highlights

Good health is real wealth of society. Being a professional medical practitioner before entering public life, Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as Dr. YSR rightly gave correct prescription to the ailing poor of his State when he was Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

Good health is real wealth of society. Being a professional medical practitioner before entering public life, Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as Dr. YSR rightly gave correct prescription to the ailing poor of his State when he was Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

His idea of free corporate health care is first of its kind in the country by which time only three schemes – two for Government employees (CGHS and ESIS) and one scheme for farmers under cooperative sector in Karnataka State were operational.

Rajiv Aarogyasri Community Health Insurance Scheme, a brain child of Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was launched in the unified Andhra Pradesh when he was Chief Minister in 2007 and soon the concept found place in draft of the National Health Bill and Twelfth Five Year Plan.

Since 2003, the central and some State governments have launched new medical insurance schemes, all with different features, to extend coverage to workers in the informal sector, but a full-fledged health insurance scheme to serve poor has been introduced in Andhra Pradesh. Presently, almost all the States as also Modi Government at Centre are implementing similar health insurance schemes with different names.

Dr. YSR envisaged keeping his experience with people approaching the government to provide financial assistance for medical treatment Under CM's Relief Fund. According to official figures, financial assistance to a tune of Rs. 168.52 crore has been provided from CM's Relief Fund between the periods from 14.05.2004 to 26.06.2007.

The Doctor in the Chief Minister then wrote a right prescription that once for all removed the 'pain' of poor approaching for CM Relief Fund. His prescription was institutionalising the assistance. His dream came to true when Rajiv Aarogyasri Health Insurance Scheme was launched on 01.04.2007.

During the regime of Dr.Rajasekhara Reddy Rajiv Arogyasri scheme has covered 198.25 lakh families out of total of 229.11 Lakh families (87 per cent families covered). Mentioning these figures and other facts about the scheme, Mr. J. Yellaiah ICSSR Doctoral Fellow, Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Department of Economics, Osmania University, Hyderabad in his article in a journal (Jan. - Feb. 2013) (being published by IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science) pointed that there have been several attempts to introduce similar schemes in other States but Andhra Pradesh has been one of the only states to successfully roll out the scheme.

Testimony article in Hindustan daily

A senior journalist, Mr Jaishankar Gupta who was in a visiting media team representing Hindustan Hindi Daily as Special Correspondent from national capital to cover the visit of AICC chief and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in Prakasam and Nellore districts on July 17, 2008, wanted to ascertain how Aarogyasri scheme was being implemented. On reaching Tirumala guest house he called 108 and to his surprise within 10 minutes the ambulance service arrived at the guest house. Mr.Gupta, who is now Executive Editor of Deshbandhu, wrote an article then in Hindustan daily on the effective functioning of Aarogyasri and the prompt response from 108 service.

'One Rupee Doctor' knows the pulse

Dr Rajasekhara Reddy, soon after completing his MBBS started his practice as a Doctor in YS Raja Reddy Hospital (named after his father) in Pulivendula, his native village in Kadapa district in 1973 and started treating poor and the under privileged just for a token fee of one rupee. This humanly gesture earned him the sobriquet of 'One Rupee Doctor'. After taking charge as Rural Devlopment Minister and later, Health portfolio in T Anjaiah Cabinet in 1980, he had decided to take one rupee as his salary.

While his Rajiv Aarogyasri Scheme is being applauded internationally, other States followed suit as also Central Government with different nomenclature. Over 40 Countries have shown interest in the Scheme.

In another remarkable initiative in health services Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy launched 108 services, an emergency alert for Ambulance on 15 August 2007. This ambulance service was first envisioned by Dr A P Ranga Rao, a retired doctor and former Director of the Andhra Pradesh Handicapped Department. Few days after YSR introduced the unique service, the then Chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi launched these services in his State on 29 August 2007.

Babu too followed but named it after NTR

Mr N Chandrababu Naidu had no choice to accept the much acclaimed 'poorest of the poor' populist scheme after he became Chief Minister of residual state of Andhra Pradesh. To suit his political aspirations, Chandrababu had changed the name of Rajiv Aarogyasri scheme as NTR Vaidyaseva. Similarly, after the split of State in 2014 in to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Aarogyasri became flagship healthcare scheme of Telangana State headed by Mr. KCR. In fact KCR on the floor of Telangana Assembly on January 20, 2019 was all praise for YSR for introducing Aarogyasri scheme and acknowledged saying "We do not hesitate to appreciate any good scheme introduced by the previous governments. Aarogyasri introduced by YSR was one such scheme which has benefitted the poor people. We are continuing the scheme with the same spirit".

Like father, like son. Closely following the footsteps of his late father, present Chief Minister of AP Mr Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy further improvised the scheme and renamed as YSR Arogyasri and it covers more than 90 per cent of the population of the State (as per 2011 census figures AP population stands at 49.7 million). While during the regime of YSR in undivided AP over 940 medical and surgical packages are listed in Rajiv Aarogyasri, his son Mr.Jagan Mohan Reddy brought numerous treatments that range from simple medical procedures to special critical care treatments covered under Dr YSR Aarogyasri scheme (General Surgery to Psychiatry). Above all, Andhra Pradesh is the first State in the country to include Covid-19 in the healthcare system of the government.

(The author is advisor national media and inter-state affairs (AP government). This is a tribute to late Chief Minister of United Andhra Pradesh, Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy on his Jayanthi on July 8).

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